Leigh Gardella-Wood and her family relocated to Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, in 2011. The charming plot of property belonged to the Spring Bluff Elementary School until it closed the following year. The family got right to work restoring the property, but they wanted to maintain the original vibe.
Together with keeping the historic elementary school sign, the family opted to keep a little monument “dedicated to those who serve” and died as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The boulder, barely larger than a huge gravestone, says “We Shall Never Forget” and names the memorial’s numerous contributors.
Gardella-Wood got an unexpected letter in the mail years after purchasing the home. The city authorities in Winthrop Harbor used their administrative authority to ask the homeowner to remove the monument or risk a fine of up to $500 per day for what they deemed an “obsolete” exhibit.
Gardella-Wood was taken aback that the city was concerned about her choice of design for her own residence. With time running out, she looked for solutions to retain the monument on her property.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the astute lady to devise a strategy to counter the city’s overreach. Leigh Gardella-Wood quickly collected sympathetic veterans and took her case to the local media. She quickly captured the interest of not just the whole neighborhood but also local leaders.
Within days, the city faced such a response that Mayor Dr. Michael A. Bruno was obliged to address the problem publicly. In an unexpected turn of events, the mayor truly apologized to Gardella-Wood and stated that she would be permitted to preserve the monument free of charge.
Gardella-Wood was relieved by the mayor’s involvement, but she says that the monument should never have been called into question in the first place. She emphasized the significance of remembering those who lost their lives or loved ones on that awful day, and she promised to keep the exhibit up for as long as possible.
The triumph follows a protracted struggle with local authorities. Gardella-Wood claimed that they had attempted to remove the monument from her home for over a year but had been rebuffed.
Leigh Gardella-Wood and the community are ecstatic about their victory against the city. Happily, the exhibit will stay in her yard, and people who choose to memorialize the 9/11 victims by visiting the monument may do so at any time.
Nonetheless, it’s distressing to see government officials meddling in the private lives of the folks they’re meant to serve, particularly when they should be dealing with greater concerns.